After Jon Jones handily defeated Chael Sonnen at UFC 159 on Saturday, I couldn’t help but wonder whether or not it was time for Jones to finally make a move to the heavyweight division. We’ve seen very little evidence that anyone in the light-heavyweight division will be able to compete with Jones’ combination of physical gifts and fight IQ. Now, certainly I would like to see Alexander Gustafsson take on Jones at light-heavyweight because he is a new contender and provides challenges in the striking game that we haven’t seen before.
After him though, what’s left? A rematch with Lyoto Machida? Phil Davis? Neither of them provide a compelling matchup for the fans or for Jones himself. Jones seems like the kind of fighter who is not content with simply beating up on over-matched opponents. He seems like a fighter who is willing to push himself to take on difficult athletic challenges in order to enhance his legacy. And, his body and frame seem well suited for moving up to heavyweight, while Georges St. Pierre has repeatedly said his attempts to gain muscle mass have proved to be taxing on his body. Furthermore, Greg Jackson, Jones’ head trainer, is prepared for a potential move to the heavyweight division according to MMAFighting.
Jones may be a victim of his own dominance. The light-heavyweight division is also low on new challengers and the UFC hasn’t been able to develop any young challengers other than Gustafsson. Phil Davis was touted as a potential challenger but considering he couldn’t even finish Vinny Magalhaes in a pure striking match, it’s hard to imagine Davis surviving very long against Jones. Other than that, do we wait for a potential Dan Henderson matchup?
It would be best for Jones to move up to heavyweight and start making noise there. If he wanted to go the Anderson Silva route and just take a heavyweight fight or two between title defenses, that would be fine. Or, if he wanted to permanently put on the weight and make a run at Cain Velasquez’s title, that would be fine too. Either way, I don’t think there are many challengers at the 205 lbs. division; it would make sense for Jones’ career to take fights at heavyweight to enhance his legacy. It would also make himself and the UFC a boatload of money.
Photo Credt – Brad Penner – USA Today Sports